CAPE TOWN – The Stormers have been boosted by the return of lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and flank Cobus Wiese ahead of their Super Rugby match against the Blues at Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 3.05 pm).
Du Toit was ruled out of their final match on their Australasia tour against the Highlanders after taking a blow to the head when he collided with teammate Kobus van Dyk against the Crusaders in Christchurch the previous week.
The Springbok lock was in doubt for, and ultimately missed, the last match in New Zealand after sustaining a concussion. And with promising second-rower JD Schickerling having been ruled out for four months, Chris van Zyl and Jan de Klerk started in Dunedin, with Salmaan Moerat making his Stormers debut in fine style off the bench.
Wiese - who produced a massive performance against the Crusaders - also missed the Highlanders match, but has recovered from a shoulder injury and is available for the weekend's fixture.
Du Toit's fitness is a timely boost for Robbie Fleck's side as Van Zyl is also on the casualty list and continues to be monitored after suffering concussion against the Highlanders.
But as with almost all Stormers injury updates, there’s bad news, too.
Fullback SP Marais is expected to miss the game against Tana Umaga's outfit, and went for scans yesterday to determine the extent of the rib injury he picked up in Dunedin.
The Stormers’ backline is in a tough situation as wing Seabelo Senatla, who is out with a groin injury, seems unlikely to run out at Newlands this weekend, as his injury continues to be assessed and his return date is dependent on his progress.
To make matters worse, Sergeal Petersen has been ruled out for four months with a medial collateral ligament injury (knee) while playing in a SuperSport Rugby Challenge match for Western Province against Maties.
This leaves the Stormers very thin out wide, as Dillyn Leyds will in all likelihood move to fullback this weekend to cover for Marais, while JJ Engelbrecht could come in on the wing along with Raymond Rhule, with Damian de Allende and EW Viljoen in midfield.
On the recovery front, Schickerling successfully underwent surgery last week on the pectoral tear he sustained against the Crusaders, and Lock Eben Etzebeth (shoulder) and loose forward Juarno Augustus (back) are making good progress according to the Stormers management. Their return to play will be determined by their progress going forward.
In more positive news, centres Dan du Plessis (shoulder) and Dan Kriel (foot) as well as scrumhalf Jano Vermaak (knee) are all available for WP in a friendly game against Griquas in Upington on Saturday.
Flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis (groin), hooker Scarra Ntubeni (hamstring) and props Frans Malherbe (neck) and Ali Vermaak (hamstring) are all taking part in full training this week as they return from long-term injury lay-offs.